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A plan for the Murray–Darling Basin

The Murray–Darling Basin covers over 1 million square kilometres of south-eastern Australia, and is home to more than 2 million people. The rains, rivers and aquifers of the Basin provide essential drinking water for the population, as well as water for urban, recreational, industrial and agricultural activity.

The Basin has 23 major river systems and some 30,000 wetlands that rely on its water to support a diverse range of plants and animals, including many rare and endangered species. The habitats provided by the rivers and wetlands are diverse, and include sites that are nationally and internationally unique.

The Basin is undeniably a working Basin. However, its future depends on securing the health of the natural environment, so that adequate amounts of good quality water are available to water users and environment sites across the vast landscape covered by the Basin.

Parliament supports the Basin Plan 95 votes to 5
Parliament supports the Basin Plan 95 votes to 5.

A plan for the Basin

The Basin Plan guides governments, regional authorities and communities to sustainably manage and use the waters of the Basin. The Plan came into effect in November 2012, and it will be reviewed and revised throughout a 7 year implementation phase.

For well over a century, there have been agreements, policies and plans that aim to use the water of the Basin fairly and responsibly. Time, knowledge, population growth, economic pressure and community expectations have meant that past agreements have needed to be reviewed, updated, or indeed, replaced.

The Basin Plan, which came into effect in 2012, represents a significant and comprehensive review of water in the Basin, to define its best management for the 21st century. The overarching aim of the plan is to strike a balance between access to water for Basin communities and provision of adequate water for the environment.

A comprehensive plan

There are many key elements to achieving a balance between water for human use and water for the environment. These elements now form the basis for day to day operation at the MDBA, state governments and water management authorities, to ensure the water resources of the Basin are managed in an integrated and sustainable way. 

An adaptive plan

The Basin Plan is the result of several years of research and analysis, and consultation with water users and water managers at all levels of community, industry and government. The Plan however is dynamic, and will be refined and updated with the knowledge gained from ongoing monitoring and evaluation.